Egypt set to swap 95% of copper for fibre by 2020

04 January 2019 | James Pearce

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Egypt has unveiled plans to replace up to 95% of its copper telecoms network with fibre by 2020 in a major overhaul to the nation’s infrastructure.

This was according to the deputy spokesperson of the Egyptian government’s communication and IT committee, Ahmed Zidane, who spoke to news agency Ecofin.

Zidane said that the committee has filed a complaint with Egypt’s Ministry of Communication over low internet speeds in Egypt, as so far only 60% of copper cables have been replaced with fibre

Over the past four years, state-owned Telecom Egypt has been working to replace copper wires in all Egyptian governorates with fibre. As of June 2017, the company had replaced 40% of the wires, according to Egypt Today.

The government’s Digital Transformation Strategy aims to connect more people across the country. According to Statista, 43.3% of Egypt’s population used the internet in 2015, but this has grown to around 53% in 2019. Part of the government’s strategy will see 16 cities in Egypt connected through fibre cables.

To meet this demand, Egypt opened local fibre manufacturing plants as part of an agreement between Egyptian HitekNofal Solutions and the Chinese Hengtong Group.

Egypt has also became a source for international interest, with Liquid Telecom recently announcing an agreement with Telecom Egypt that saw its network expand into Egypt using the latter’s infrastructure.

The memorandum of understanding – struck in July - will see Liquid link its network in Sudan into Telecom Egypt’s network through a new cross border interconnection, completing a 10-year project to offer a 60,000km network running the length of the African continent, from Cape Town to Cairo.

The deal means Telecom Egypt’s customers will have access to Liquid Telecom’s pan-African fibre network, which spans more than 50,000km and access to five key subsea cable systems. Also, the Egyptian operator will offer Liquid greater reach through its interconnection services.

The two companies also partnered in a $400 million deal to build data centres and more fibre in Egypt as part of a move to connect Cairo with West Africa. This network will runfrom Cairo to Dakar, the capital of Senegal, through Sudan, Chad and Nigeria, with connections to the rest of West Africa, according to Liquid's owner Strive Masiyiwa.

The deal was signed by Masiyiwa and Telecom Egypt CEO Ahmed El Beheiry, and was witnessed by two Egyptian government ministers, Sahar Nasr, minister of investment and international cooperation, and Amr Talaat, minister of communications and information technology. Telecom Egypt will use the network to connect Egyptian businesses to the rest of Africa, and will partner with Liquid Telecom to build data centres across Egypt.

Telecom Egypt is also partnering with a new company, Fiber Misr, for subsea services in Egypt and the region. Fiber Misr is led by former Gulf Bridge International CEO Ahmed Mekky, offering IT and infrastructure services in Egypt.

Capacity is launching a new event, Capacity North Africa, which will be held in Cairo on 16-17 April 2019. For more details, click the picture below: